Toys on Dollar Street By: Lindsay SCHMIDT

The Maharjan family

  • Country: Nepal
  • Monthly Income: $84 USA


Karun is the father and husband of this family. Karun is 26 years old. He is also a labourer but is currently unemployed.


Alka is Karun's wife. She is 27 years old and works as both a farmer and a housewife. Alka works for a total of 75 hours per week and makes around 2 704 Nepalese Rupees per month. 2 704 Nepalese Rupees is worth about 84 dollars USA.

Jason and Jessica

Jason is their 9 year old son and Jessica is their 6 year old daughter.


The Maharjan family lives in a one bedroom house and have been living there for 12 years. The family had built the house themselves with help from their friends and family. The house does have electricity although it is sometimes faulty.

The house does not have a toilet so they have to use the bathroom outside.
But they do have a lock on their front door.

Their most loved item is their home but they do want a larger house.

Pictures of their house.

The Maharjah family's food is mostly purchased but 1% of their food is grown by them. With only an income of 84 dollars USA 90% of their income goes towards food. The Maharjah family doesn't have a water source and have to bring water from elsewhere.

They eat rice as a grain but it probably isn't just any type of rice, it's probably Pulao. Rice is an obvious staple for many Nepalese dishes, just like many other Asian countries. The fried rice dish of Pulao is popular with locals and visitors. Vegetable pulao can be found throughout Nepal. This dish consists of fried rice with vegetables which have been lightly seasoned with turmeric and cumin. On the table they also have what looks like uncooked potatoes.

They cook over a wood burning stove with the kitchen wear above.

Health and Hygiene

For starters they eat on their rug. This family does not have a kitchen table so they eat on the floor. It's not very hygienic but it's the best the Maharjah family can do with 2 704 Nepalese Rupees a month.

They wash their clothes in this bucket instead of a washing machine.

And wash their dishes in here.

The Maharjah family goes to the bathroom outside instead of inside over a toilet.

Instead of toilet paper, it looks like they rise with water.

For soap, it looks like homemade hand soap. But this is only a guess.

The soap does seem to keep their hands clean!

Their teeth look pretty heathy compared to this set of teeth. A bit yellow but pretty normal.

From my understanding the family only has one toothbrush. This means they all share one tooth brush or one brushes their teeth and the rest don't.

They at least have some toothpaste. The toothpaste is better than just washing with water.

According to Dollar Street, the variety and quality of medication that a family has available is dependent on income and the family’s local healthcare system. For the poorest, medication is devastatingly expensive so they have just a small supply. Those with a higher income have a variety, but the amount they can afford is dependent on what's available in that region. To me in this picture, this family does not have very many medications in the form of pills. This makes sense according to the information above since the are poor and have limited medications.

The kids favourite toy, and probably their only.
In 2011, Nepal had a literacy rate of 57% for people over the age of 15. I infer that one ore both of the parents can read so they read to their children.

The family does have a television and a phone as well.


The current education system in Nepal is one of the youngest in the world. Nepal follows a three step system that is modelled on the traditional Indian educational system. Nepal's education system constists of 10 years for school education, 4 years for college education and 2 years for a Masters program in university. Although this all sounds nice, school attendance is unequal across income and genders. As of 2006, 76% of the Terai Dalits and 62% of Muslims had not been to school. The Terai Dalits have the lowest rate for completing primary school and right behind them are the Muslims. The enrollment for females in Nepal between the ages of 6 and 10 is 67% but 78% percent for males attend school. The families may not valuing education for girls or it is for other reasons. Plus, studies reveal that hardly any learning and teaching occurs in public schools in Nepal. I infer that since the Mahjarah family is poor the can not afford a private school so the children go to public school. Also, since only 67% of girls attend public school now the number was probably less when Alka was in school which explains why she's a farmer and housewife.

Maharjah family compared to the rest of Nepal

The life expectancy in Nepal is 70 years old so if the Maharjah family continues to stay out of poverty then I infer they will live until 70. Especially since the poverty rate was about 6 people in Nepal in 2010. Also, the crime rate for the country is a very low 34.13%, so I infer that they are pretty safe where they live.

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